Horner admits Red Bull still worried about engine reliability

Red Bull have suffered five reliability issues in the first two race weekends of the 2022 season.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has revealed that there is still an element of apprehension surrounding the team’s engine after several failures in the early part of 2022.

Red Bull were set to start making their own powertrains after he departure of Honda at the end of 2021, but it was confirmed over the winter that the Japanese motoring giants would continue to manufacture their powertrains until at least the end of 2025 when the current engine freeze finishes.

Despite the freeze, teams are permitted to make changes if they have reliability concerns, and three of the four Red Bull Powertrains [RBPT]-branded Honda engines failed in Bahrain as Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri caught fire, and Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez both suffered late vacuum issues.

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The reliability issues continued in Saudi Arabia last weekend when Yuki Tsunoda was unable to participate in either qualifying or the race, and Horner had been coy all weekend on his optimism of making it to the end of the race with all of the RBPT engines intact.

The Briton conceded that he is still slightly worried about the possibilities of frequent failures this year.

“Of course, we’re concerned about it, but I think, first, we have to understand what it is,” he told RacingNews365.com.

“I think once all the strip-down has been done and we understand what the issue is then, hopefully, fixes can be put in place.”

Tsunoda’s car ground to a halt on his reconnaissance laps to the grid on Sunday in Jeddah, and Horner speculated that it might have been down to a lack of oil pressure.

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AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost has since confirmed this.

“The oil pressure dropped and, therefore, we decided to stop,” he said.

“We don’t know yet whether we can use this engine or not [again], or what is exactly broken – we have to investigate.”

The Red Bull double retirement in Bahrain was more down to fuel pick-up rather than a fundamental problem with the engine itself, whereas all three of AlphaTauri’s deficiencies have all stemmed from the main Power Unit.

Tost would like to discern as quickly as possible why his team’s engines have been struggling more than those of the main fold.

“I want to find out the reason why we are struggling with reliability because Red Bull aren’t having any problem,” added the Austrian.

Gasly’s burned engine that combusted in Bahrain is still on its way to Japan to be looked at by Honda’s engineers because it is unsafe to carry it via airfreight, and must therefore make its voyage the old-fashioned way.

“[It] is still on the way back to Japan because [it] cannot be flown by aeroplane,” Tost revealed.

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“[The] battery has to be put in a sealed box of water and is now on the ship. We need to wait until they investigate what’s going on in there.”

AlphaTauri will be hoping the dissections carried out in Japan as to why Gasly’s engine failed so spectacularly will help give them definitive answers so that they begin to resolve the issues.